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Benched — Darlinghurst Theatre Company

This intimate and immersive theatre piece reflects on the relationship between athleticism and disability.
By Ben Hansen
May 13, 2022
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By Ben Hansen
May 13, 2022
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Award-winning playwright Jamila Main is bringing their immersive theatre piece Benched to the Darlinghurst Theatre Company for its NSW premiere. Running for four nights in May at the beloved theatre company's Eternity Playhouse, Benched was featured at Midsumma Festival earlier this year after sold-out debut seasons in South Australia in 2021.

The intimate and immensely honest play is centred around Main who sits on a bench on stage alongside a ball, a frisbee and a shoe — all of which have their own unique story. Six audience members join Main on the bench throughout the show, selecting an item and engaging in a dialogue on the relationship between athleticism and disability.

"I have a dynamic disability, my mobility and pain changes from day to day, hour to hour. I wanted to create an intimate show that feels epic in its emotional proportions; a chance where I can sit on the bench and share truths about disability we rarely have the opportunity to tell or hear," said Main. "I was originally commissioned to make a performance work for a couple of hundred bucks for a one-off night of experimental art in Adelaide, commissioned by FELTspace Gallery. At the time, I was going through a horrible flare-up. I made Benched in my bathtub, meditating on my true childhood memories of sport and athleticism, in contrast to my current declining mobility."

There are a few different types of tickets available for Benched. Firstly, you can purchase a General Admission ticket ($32) which means you'll get to sit in the audience and enjoy the show. You can also join Main on the bench ($42) for ten minutes during the show before watching the remainder with the GA audience. Or, you can book in an intimate one-on-one session on the bench during a special session with no observers that'll be happening from 2pm on Thursday, May 26. There are also live stream tickets available for $10.

Alongside the play, mixed media artist Ruby Allegra will be transforming the theatre's foyer into an exhibition space with works that compliment and reflect the themes of Benched. "I am exploring the joyful and painful moments of disabled childhood through the curation of works by disabled artists as they consider their younger self, or their inner child," said Allegra.

Lily Drummond

Top image: Ren Williams

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